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Startup

COVID-19 Q&A interview

COVID-19 Q&A interview

Alex Grant, MD at Recruitment Funding Solutions answers some of the key questions we’re being asked during this difficult period.

These are the COVID-19 questions every (startup) recruiter needs answering

How has the lockdown period been for RFS and its teams?

Its obviously been very different from how we all normally work but, with the technology and processes we have in place, the business was always set up with the capacity for everyone to work remotely, if required. I’m very proud of the way in which our teams have adapted to the situation and some of the challenges that it has presented.

The way that everyone has embraced those challenges and dealt with them has been very pleasing and reassuring. You certainly learn a lot about your people when faced with situations that are outside of the norm.

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How has Covid-19 impacted on your agency client base?

We work with a wide spread of agencies working in a variety of sectors and naturally certain sectors have been impacted more than others. As an example, the medical/ healthcare, logistics and merchandising sector agencies have seen increases in volume across the board but then the construction, education and manufacturing sector agencies have seen an inevitable decline in business levels. We have continued to invoice with many of our agencies, but the volumes have obviously changed as per sector. As with our teams, I have been really impressed with the responses of the agencies we deal with in relation to their dealing of this difficult situation. Many have furloughed staff, but the directors have generally continued to work themselves and have really shown great resolve to ensure that their businesses stay in good shape during this time.

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What challenges does the temporary Recruitment Industry face as we gradually move out of lockdown?

I think there will inevitably be challenges for most sectors because of the virus but I do believe that the temporary recruitment space will come back fighting quite quickly. I really feel for certain sectors such as aviation, retail and hospitality as this situation will undoubtably continue to impact them years down the line. In terms of challenges to our sector, Insurance is something that is already a hot topic and the trade credit insurance market has already reacted across the board and moved to mitigate its exposure. Inevitably, and rightly so, insurers will seek further reassurance before providing credit insurance on companies that may be deemed to be risky to cover so this will perhaps present some challenges for agencies wanting to trade with clients that might fall into that category.

On the same note, the potentially increased risk of end clients falling into financial difficulty, as a result of Covid-19, is also something that agencies will want to be aware of and may make them tread a little more carefully with who they trade with. Away from risk, dependant on the sector, the need for an external, flexible workforce could reduce for a period as businesses look to reign in their spending while they ‘lick their wounds’ as a result of the pandemic.

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How might Covid-19 have a lasting effect on recruitment businesses?

I think recruitment agencies, particularly the temporary workforce, will play a significant role in helping our economy to recover and, the uncertainty that Covid-19 has caused with businesses everywhere, could well result in an eventual increase in the need for temporary workers. As I said before, this will be industry dependant but in construction, for example, the government have made no secret of their desire to pump funds into infrastructure to get the economy going again. Projects still need to be finished. Unfortunately, like in many sectors, there may also be redundancies, therefore there could well be a crop of talented recruitment professionals in the market to hire or even start their own agencies. It will be interesting to see how this side of things unfolds.

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What, if any, opportunities might there be as a result of Covid-19?

As I said earlier, there will be a requirement for temporary workers as we move out of lockdown and the flexible workforce in this country will play a big part in the recovery of our economy so I do think the opportunity to provide a flexible workforce will be there. I also think the things we are learning right now, in terms of how we are able to work, away from a formal office setting, will be giving people confidence in how they may be able to work moving forwards. I already have several clients that have opted not to renew the contract on their office space, choosing to enable staff to work from home instead. There are obvious cost benefits to doing this but, also, this is, perhaps an opportunity to address the issue of work life balance with your staff.

Can work from home scenarios be embraced moving forward as we come out of lockdown? I think in some scenarios, the answer will be yes. I don’t think businesses will all necessarily abandon an office environment, and personally, I think this is where a real team culture can be built so perhaps a mixture of working remotely and keeping an office base might be the answer for some. I have conversations, everyday with potential new start-ups asking the question “Will I need an office?” I think what we’re all going through right now, is demonstrating that it can be done remotely if you have the right people who are motivated to do a good job.

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What advice would you give to anyone who may be considering starting a recruitment agency right now?

I think if it is something you have been considering, now might be the perfect time to take the leap. In some cases, where people may sadly be facing redundancy, it may actually be their best option. I think 10 years ago starting any business was perceived to be much more difficult in terms of the administration and knowledge that you might have needed. There just was not the same support available as there is now. Services like RFS can make, what might ordinarily feel like quite a daunting and time sapping process, become very straight forward and things can be set up extremely quickly.

Whereas in the past, you had so much to consider as an agency like ‘Who will run my back office? Who will chase my debt? How will I manage my payroll?’, nowadays services like ours literally take that pain away and you can instantly have a professional back office and funding service in place so that, even as a one person outfit, your clients will see a professional service from day one. It certainly helps to bridge the gap between smaller agencies and those organisations with hundreds of staff. Nowadays smaller agencies can offer as professional a service as their larger competition and compete with them on a level playing field. Ultimately starting any business comes down to the question ‘Do you back yourself?’ If the answer is yes, starting up in this industry is easier than you might think.

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What, if any, assurances can you offer to any agencies worried about the future?

Right now, we’re in unchartered waters so, exactly how this will unfold in the longer term, we don’t yet know. Having said that, there are industries that this will impact harder than others and whilst I can see, certainly in the shorter to midterm, permanent recruitment placements being a little harder to make, I am confident, from all that I see and read, that the UK’s flexible workforce will be playing a big role in the recovery. I am therefore quietly confident in the temporary recruitment market and its recovery.

Right now, my advice would be to trade sensibly and carefully, be aware of those freak job orders for 100 workers starting tomorrow but for only 2 weeks work. There will be companies looking to finish jobs but not have the cash to pay right now so tread carefully on who you deal with. Whenever there are challenges to be faced, there also inevitable opportunities so look for those areas that you might be able to capitalise on in your niche. It’s also worth remembering, we’re all in the same boat with this. Every challenge that you’re facing, your competitors are also facing those challenges. Those that continue to do all the groundwork and not allow themselves to get lazy will come out in better shape.

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Get in touch to find out more

RFS can be contacted on 03300 539439 or enquire via the website HERE

A customer perspective

A customer perspective

We offer plenty of advice via our website and in-person through our consultancy team, but sometimes, there’s no real substitute to hearing from someone who’s been there and done it. So we’ve asked a customer of ours – Vincent Gurney Ltd – to share some insights into how they set up, what challenges they faced, how RFS helped them and what advice they’d offer to others contemplating setting up their own recruitment business.

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Taking the leap

Taking the leap and starting your own business.

There is no doubt that starting your own business is a big decision. Whilst many people have great ideas for a business, only a small percentage actually start out on their own. This is because there are a large number of risks involved in starting your own business. From financial risks to those of security and the consequences of failure, there are numerous factors that you must consider before starting off. Such risks can be seen in a large number of new businesses that fail each year in the UK. Whilst many such businesses will often have great products and ideas, only a small percentage will actually go on to become high-turnover companies.

To help you get the best start possible, we have put together the following tips designed to let you know what is involved and what you can do to improve the chances of your business becoming a success.

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Know your stuff

It may seem obvious, but if you are going to start your own business, it is important that you know everything you can about it. You must, therefore, research the sector you wish to operate in, look at potential clients, identify your strengths and of course learn about your competition. Doing this will give you a much better chance of succeeding over the long term. Once you have done your research, you will be in a better position to create a realistic and effective business plan. This does not mean you are expected to become an expert in all areas. However, the more you know, the more you will be able to sell your ideas and vision to others. Being passionate about what you are doing is half the battle – love what you are doing, and the rest should come naturally.

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Make the leap

Once you have done your research, identified your strengths and have a clear understanding of what you need to do to succeed, you are ready to take your first risk – that of starting your own business. All businesses, of course, have the potential to fail. However, if you have done your research and believe in yourself and your business, you can make it. Starting your own business is a bit like taking a leap of faith, you must have faith in yourself and your abilities if you are to succeed. By working hard and knowing your stuff, you will be giving yourself a much better chance of succeeding. Whilst you will be expected to take risks, this doesn’t mean you have to be reckless. By taking calculated risks that take into account all factors, you will be able to reduce risk and increase your chances of succeeding.

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Be competitive

It is often not enough to simply know that your competitors exist. You must be prepared to take these on in order to succeed. If you believe you offer a better product/service, then tell people so. Do not be afraid to take on your competitors just because they are bigger and more established. Customers often do not care about such issues, and if you are offering something that is an improvement on others, they will want to know about it. Doing your research and understanding your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses will make it much easier for you to then exploit these to your own benefit. Of course, this doesn’t mean acting in an underhand manner. Rather, you are simply looking at what they are not offering and providing this service to customers who want it. Such business practices are what capitalism is based on. When looking at your competitors, remember, it is highly likely that they have or will be doing exactly the same to you.

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Make use of the internet

There is no doubting that technology has changed virtually every aspect of modern business. This can come in many forms and knowing what these will help you better take advantage of them. Firstly, with so much information now available on the internet, you would be foolish to ignore it. Once exclusively found in expensive business schools, there is now a wealth of information for entrepreneurs looking to set up their first business. From blogs and webinars to online education courses and government resources, you can now get expert advice, often completely free. Other valuable resources will include advice regarding your legal and tax requirements, as well as any available funding, such as grants for new businesses. Not only will you be learning more, but you will also be saving money with the knowledge you gain. Furthermore, such online resources are often two-way. This means if you have a specific question, you can ask this online – enabling you to see a variety of views and answers, and perhaps helping you find the solution you need.

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Unique selling point

When starting out, it is important to know what your Unique Selling Point (USP) is. This is what you believe will stand your business out from others, what sets you apart, what will help your business become a success. Your USP can take many forms, be it your experience, your staff, the market you operate in or the types of clients you deal with. Being clear about your USP is vital, and you really need to be clear about this before anything else. Knowing your USP will enable you to then create a business plan that makes the best use of this – helping you to make a niche in your targeted area and working your way to becoming a market leader.

Surviving the initial storm

How to survive the initial storm when starting your own business.

Perhaps the biggest initial stress for most when starting a business is finance. Suddenly you’re responsible for your own finances, no longer relying on a monthly salary from an employer. This can be very daunting to many, and often takes a while to adjust to. Furthermore, when operating your own business, you will likely be responsible for the livelihoods of others. This alone can be very stressful and will alter how you look at your business and the decisions you will have to make.

Understanding this, we have put together the following tips. These tips are designed to help you better survive during the initial, scary stage of your business – not only helping you to reduce stress but also avoid some common pitfalls and give your business the best chance of succeeding.

Ready to find out more?

Get a routine

When working for yourself it’s easy to become distracted. Suddenly finding yourself with lots of time on your hands will, of course, feel great at first. However, enjoy it too much and you may find yourself forgetting that this free time is actually when you are supposed to be working. Another common problem is the opposite – that of you working too much and becoming burnt out. Both are just as fatal to new businesses and therefore should be avoided at all costs. The trick is striking a balance between the two.

If you are working at home, set aside an area in which you can sit down and work for a set period of time without distraction. Doing this every day will give your day structure and enable you to find a balance between when you should be working and when you should be relaxing. Knowing when to switch between the two is important and will help you more easily distinguish between the two. Of course, working for yourself will mean you can be flexible in setting such working periods, and this is a huge benefit to most. However, it should never be forgotten that you are now the boss and therefore you will only get out of your business what you put into it.

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Be careful with your finances

When starting out on your own, there will, of course, be various expenses. Whilst it’s understandable to want the best for your business at first, you must be cautious and keep an eye on your spending. This is recommended even if you find yourself doing well straight away. This is because business conditions can often change quickly and without warning. By being careful with your spending and keeping a certain level of money saved, you will be able to much better survive such events should they happen. Such periods of high and low business are common for new businesses. How such periods are endured is often the difference between successful and unsuccessful businesses. Keeping emergency funds for such events also provides important peace-of-mind to you and any employees you may have.

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Don’t do it alone

When working for yourself, it’s easy to become slightly disconnected from the rest of the world. Modern business practices and technology now means that more and more people are working from home – needing nothing more than a laptop and smartphone. Many new recruitment agency owners will find themselves in this position – often working exclusively either on their phone or the internet, and rarely meeting clients face-to-face. Whilst this is understandable, new business owners are still recommended to get out into the real world and meet others. This can take many forms, from making the effort to visit a client’s premises, to attending a local event. Such interactions not only help you to improve your social skills but often lead to new relationships being formed and business opportunities created.

Ironically, such groups of like-minded individuals are often most easily found online – of course, you will then hopefully meet in real! These groups can often be great sources of industry information and help you to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and issues. Remember, there are many people just like you who are either starting out on their own or now running successful businesses. You can learn lots from both, as they can learn from you, and so by sharing information, you will be giving yourself a greater chance of succeeding.

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Don’t keep still

You may have a full book of clients and working to your capacity, if you are, congratulations! When everything is going great, it is understandable to think less or even at all about what could go wrong. However, as you will likely learn, business is unpredictable; one minute a client loves you and the next they are gone. It is therefore very important to ensure that you continue to market your business and keep your eyes out for new opportunities all the time. This helps you not only be better prepared for any slowdowns in business but will also likely present opportunities for you to expand your business should you want to.

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Good luck!

As you can see, there are a lot of things you will need to remember when first starting out on your own. From watching what you spend to speaking to business owners, there are a number of things you can do that will help you better handle the numerous obstacles you are likely to face when creating your own employment agency. Make use of all the resources available to you and do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it. We hope you have found the above tips useful. Remember, every successful business first began with an idea and a risk being taken.

Growing a successful recruitment business

Growing a successful recruitment business

Practical advice and tips to help you grow a successful recruitment business.

The recruitment industry has seen significant growth in recent years as more and more companies realise the importance of getting the ‘right’ employees. This growth has seen an increase in the number of recruitment agencies appearing in the market – largely due in part to the high number of recruitment professionals starting out and setting up their own agencies.

The reasons for doing this are varied, and of course include the freedom running your own business brings, the belief that you can do it better than other agencies and of course the financial and lifestyle benefits owning your own business can provide. Whilst all of this may sound great, creating a business, any business, that is profitable and sustainable will, of course, involve a lot of hard work. To help you get a better understanding of what you will need, we have created a breakdown of some of the most important issues surrounding the creation, development, and realisation of a successful and sustainable recruitment business.

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A simple guide to setting up your own recruitment agency

A simple guide to setting up your own recruitment agency

If you are considering setting up your own recruitment agency – congratulations! You are about to embark on an exciting journey that could change your life! To help you make the very best start possible, we have put together some useful tips and advice. If you are planning on setting up your own recruitment agency, well done. You have chosen an industry that continues to see significant growth as more and more companies realise the importance of getting the right employees.

Record growth!

The UK recruitment industry has seen record growth in recent years and the trend does not appear to be slowing down. The REC’s annual Recruitment Industry Trends report for 2018 showed that industry turnover from permanent and temporary placements, and other HR services, totalled nearly £36 billion, increasing 11 percent on the previous year. Furthermore, the average value of placement has also been rising, up more than 6% to £4,238 in 2018.

Despite nearly 1,000 people entering new employment every day in the UK, it is estimated that there are currently nearly 900,000 positions available. Such opportunities have not been missed, and a record 8,488 new recruitment agencies were registered in the UK last year.

Ready to find out more?

Setting up your agency today

Whilst we can’t do everything for you, such as choose your name, we can help you significantly reduce the time it will take for you to get up and running.

In fact, so confident are we in the great information we have put together below, that you could be up and running in just one day!

To get started as quickly as possible, simply follow these useful tips.

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1. Get the name right

This may seem a little obvious and not all that important. However, studies have shown that a good name goes a long way with winning new clients – something critical for a new business.

Before choosing your name there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, your name must be legal in terms of what you can and cannot name a business. Second, you need to ensure that no one has already registered the name – this can be done on the Companies House website.

Next, you need to make sure that the name conveys the right message, both in terms of the industry you are working in and also the types of clients you wish to be targeting – for example, younger professional vs senior management. When doing this it is also important to take your future plans into consideration. For example, if you call your company ‘Manufacturing & Wholesale Recruitment’ it may be difficult to expand into other areas further down the line, such as education or management.

Another consideration is whether you will be operating overseas, as you will, of course, need to ensure there are no translation issues – such as the name meaning something else in a different language.

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2. Register your business

Once you have decided on your business’ name, the very first thing you need to do is register your business. Whilst this is, of course, an important milestone, it’s not quite as scary as it sounds – and is in fact extremely quick and easy. To help you complete the process as quickly as possible, you will need some information on hand. The information you will need includes:

  • Company name and UK office address
  • Company director name, their name, address, date of birth
  • All details of any share capital
  • All details of shares/stocks held

Once you have provided the information required, as well as paid the £12 registration fee, you are done – congratulations! You are now an official business.

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3. Get online

Like the majority of modern businesses, you will need a website. There are various ways to do this, and the method you choose will depend on factors such as your budget and long-term plans. Simple ‘drag and drop’ platforms enable you to quickly and affordably set up a great looking website. However, these platforms can often be limiting in what you can do – causing problems later on if you wish to expand. Numerous types of platforms exist, and many will help guide you through the process, enabling you to set up a website without the need for previous experience. When creating your website, it is useful to remember the following:

  • Create ‘Calls to Action’ that are clear and obvious to your website visitors
  • Provide clear contact details throughout your website
  • Ensure your website contains SEO content – this enables prospective clients to find you more easily and helps eliminate the need to spend lots of money on promotion
  • Select social media carefully – many new businesses try to be on every social platform. The belief that the more you are on the more people will see you is understandable – but it’s false. It is much more productive and beneficial to be specific in your use of social media. Find what platforms your clients use, such as LinkedIn, and target that one. Quality, targeted content is much more effective than the usual scatter-gun approach.

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4. Learn the boring stuff

Unfortunately, there is, of course, a lot of boring, legal stuff you will need to familiarise yourself with. Don’t worry, you won’t have to become an expert in this stuff, but learning about your tax requirements, as well as data protection laws and worker regulations will help you improve how your business operates.

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Good luck!

As you can see, there are a number of requirements you need to do to make your business legal.

However, the process is relatively simple, and as long as you have all the required information, can be performed quickly and with the minimum of fuss. We hope the above information and tips have helped you better understand what you need to do to help give your recruitment agency the best possible chance of success. Good luck with your new venture!